Big Brother Big Sister benefits lives of “littlesâ€

A big sister constantly hogs the television remote but also willingly plays imaginary games; a big brother will wrestle with you and tease you but will also teach you everything he knows about how to throw a baseball. Every Monday afternoon, University students in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) meet to take on these roles for local youth.

BBBS is a nation wide organization that focuses on the formation of activities and mentoring for underprivileged children. The University campus branch of BBBS, which is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that began in 2006, raises money for the transportation of children from Garden Hills Elementary School to campus every Monday. The organization has about 200 members and 20 mentor-to-child match-ups. Once the children, called “littles,” arrive on campus, their mentors spend individual time with them and partake in various activities.

“The goal is to have a positive influence on these children and give them a chance to enjoy themselves,” said Jason Wyeth, vice president of BBBS and sophomore in DGS. “I personally think BBBS is so amazing because of the chance it gives kids to come to campus and get away from the some of the problems they have to face.”

President of BBBS Becky Gartner, sophomore in AHS, agrees with Wyeth on the influence the group has on everyone involved.

“BBBS makes such a positive impact on so many people that I wanted to get as involved as possible. (The “littles”) are all so unique and full of life. They are the reason I wanted to stay involved,” she said.

The BBBS program on campus has proven to be very successful with some shocking statistics. 46% of the “littles” are less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 52% are less likely to skip school and 33% are less likely to hit someone.

“(BBBS) enriches the lives of the children that participate,” said Jessica Walters, case manager of the group.

This RSO has had a lot of success this past year with fundraising and different events, like holiday parties and a volunteer event that took place this past Saturday.

“Saturday we volunteered at Garden Hills Elementary School for ‘Comcast Cares.’ We helped with things such as planting flowers, cleaning up and making bulletin boards,” Gartner said. “We also had various fundraising events such as a dodge ball tournament at the ARC, pizza sales outside of the bars, working U of I football games, and our biggest event, Bowl For Kids Sake,” Gartner said.

Next year, the BBBS team hopes to expand as an RSO as well as impact even more children’s lives.

“Next year we are welcoming in a large amount of new ‘littles’ into the program to be matched with new ‘bigs.’ We are also looking forward to events such as another Dodgeball Tournament this coming fall,” Wyeth said. Gartner and Wyeth encourage whoever is interested to become involved.

“We will be having informational meetings for people who are interested in getting involved in the program to attend and get more information. We’ll also have a booth at quad day for people to get information on when those meetings will be,” Wyeth said.

For those enthusiastic about acting as a role model for local children or simply interested in connecting with the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters offers the opportunity to make an impact in a “big” way.